ER staff crunch trauma hits patients, docs alike

21 July, 2016

NEW DELHI: Whenever there are attacks on doctors in hospitals, blame is almost always solely apportioned to the attackers. Yet the key issues leading to violence go unaddressed.

A major problem area is the unavailability of senior doctors in emergencies. AIIMS, for example, has only seven senior resident (SR) doctors against 20 posts and a handful of junior residents (JRs) to handle over a thousand patientsvisiting the emergency block daily.

"One SR would finish his tenure on July 31 so only six would be left. We have written to the Union health minister and the institute director among others to resolve the crisis," said Dr Harjit Singh Bhatti, general secretary, AIIMS RDA.

He said AIIMS emergency operated in three shifts: morning, evening and night. "At any given time, there are 150-200 patients requiring immediate care. But there are only two to three SRs and seven to eight JRs on duty. How can we do justice to all?" the doctor added.

Surgery emergency, doctors said, was the hardest-hit with just two SRs. "It is impossible for them to be present in each shift for 24 hours so everything in surgical emergency is left with only non-academic JRs," Dr Bhatti said.

AIIMS RDA said it had raised the issue with the hospital administration several times but to no avail. "Our SRs and JRs are already overburdened and under severe psychological stress, and if something goes wrong or some negligence happens, the same doctors would be held responsible by patients' relatives and the administration. We want the administration to act in time to avoid such crises," said another RDA member.



"RDA had asked for senior residents from trauma centre or other clinical departments. It was done temporarily last year but that's not a solution. Staff need to be hired," said Dr Vijay Gurjar, president of AIIMS RDA.


AIIMS spokesperson Dr Amit Gupta said the institute was in the process of hiring more SRs. "We have advertised for the post several times but there are not many takers for emergency medicine. Most doctors apply for super-specialty departments," he said. Dr Gupta added that if there was any crisis, the hospital might rope in doctors from other departments.


Last September, the son of an AIIMS staffer died of dengue. The kin alleged medical negligence, following which an inquiry was held and action taken against some doctors.


"It is easy to act against doctors. But crowding and lack of infrastructure need to be looked into," said Dr Vivek Chauksey of Lady Hardinge Medical College.